The Pirates Minor League Catcher Roster Crunch Appears to be Solved

The Pittsburgh Pirates looked like they had a roster crunch at the catcher position in the lower levels heading into the 2014 season.

2013 first round pick Reese McGuire was expected to make the jump to full season ball in West Virginia. Wyatt Mathisen started the 2013 season in West Virginia, but suffered a partially torn labrum early in the season, and was out of action by the end of April. His numbers struggled in his time at the level, and he never made it back once healthy. Jin-De Jhang had a strong season in Jamestown, with the options for 2014 being West Virginia, or an aggressive push to Bradenton.

The Pirates will be taking that aggressive route, skipping Jhang over West Virginia and sending him to Bradenton. Jhang played with the Bradenton squad today, and confirmed to me after the game that he will be in Bradenton this year. McGuire caught for West Virginia, with Mathisen playing DH. Both are slated to start the season in West Virginia, and the playing time will probably go in that manner, with both splitting time behind the plate, and the guy who isn’t catching serving as the DH.

McGuire is the top prospect of the trio, ranking in a few top 100 rankings, and being named our number seven prospect in the system. Mathisen and Jhang have the potential to be two-way catchers, but they’re both raw. We ranked them 21/22 respectively in this year’s Prospect Guide.

  • I assumed this would be the solution. It would not make sense to pair to LH-Hitting catchers on the same team. De Jhang played higher level pitching over the winter on the Taiwan National Team. Would it be safe to assume the final catching pairings to begin the season – AAA Sanchez/Ashley, AA Paulino/Diaz, A+ De Jhang/Stallings, A McGuire/Mathisen with potentially Sanchez, Paulino, Stallings, & Mathisen as likely candidates as mid-season promotions.

    • Those pairings seem likely though Diaz and Stallings may swap places. Also it wouldn’t be surprising to see a 3rd catcher at the A level since the backup will likely be playing DH.

  • Tim, do you think McGuire may get less time at C and more at DH than you’d normally expect from the higher prospect, since his defense is so advanced and he needs to work on the bat more? And Mathisen probably needs the work behind the plate more.